Friday, 23 September 2011

Politically correct language: yes or no?

I must say I’m not a big fan of politically correct language myself. I mean, I don’t think anyone after Foucault would doubt that language does create reality and that language is used to exert power and dominate those who happen to be in a weaker position. And of course I’m all in favour of respecting differences and the rights of the minorities (although, you see, I even dislike the term minority because I perceive it as discriminatory itself).

But I’m sure all of us can see that we can use language for power or discrimination without necessarily using politically incorrect language (so if I decide to “let someone go” I’m definitely using my power to cause someone a terrible problem, even if I choose not to say: “hey, you’re fired!” . And we can use political correct language and euphemisms to conceal politically incorrect actions (so “the rebels were neutralized” sounds better that “the rebels were executed/murdered/killed” and that might make someone feel more at ease with the idea that they were executed/murdered/killed, but it doesn’t change the fact that they were executed/murdered/killed).

Anyway, it’s a very serious subject and we could debate it for hours. Guides on how to use political correct language, especially in academic settings, are all over the place, but some people actually write against its use. Interesting links:

Guides on PC language:

Guide to non-sexist language University College Cork

Against PC:

About Spanish:

El cyberespanglish y el español neutro en la red


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